Posted on Sunday, November 1st, 2020
The ghost and goblins may be gone, but spirits still linger... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tres Lassos! My favorite show of all time, Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ was just renewed for a third season, even though they haven't started filming the second season yet...
Sad to think that it could be up to a year before there's any more Ted Lasso to watch, but at least there's new Ted Lasso coming. If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a free trial at Apple TV+ to binge the show.
• Bond, James Bond! Standing out in the news of the week was James Bond actor Sir Sean Connery dying at 90 years old. My first "Bond" was Roger Moore in Moonraker in 1979, but once VHS home video allowed me to see all the earlier 007 movies, I was obviously blown away by the cool-calm that Connery brought to the role...
Though his work as Bond is probably my favorite role, he has plenty of other movies which made me a fan of his work. Of course Highlander immediately comes to mind. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, The Name of the Rose, Rising Sun, Playing By Heart, and The Rock were also flicks made memorable because he was in them. It's tough for me to reconcile being a fan of his work with his misogynistic bullshit, however... most famously with his infamous Playboy interview where he advocated slapping women. One could argue that he was a victim of the times he lived in because he said it in 1965, but he totally doubled-down on the idea over two decades later in a Barbara Walters interview. It wasn't until 2006 where he finally tried to walk back his idiotic stance, but an autobiography by his first wife alleged that he physically battered her, so seeing him as anything but an abusive asshole isn't easy. But you could almost say the same for James Bond in general. I guess the only thing left for me to say is "Rest in Peace."
• Happy! Fell down another TikTok rabbit hole while waiting for my clothes to finish in the dryer last night and got this video suggested to me... and I honestly don't know whether to be happy about it or break down in tears. It's heartbreaking to think that there are people who would wish this kind of thing upon a teenager. And yet we just got a new Supreme Court Justice who thinks that sexuality is a "preference" and will almost certainly interpret our laws accordingly. It's tough not to be disheartened by such events, but maybe videos like this one will change hearts and change minds so that we can celebrate people being who they are... and kids don't have to spend their young lives wondering if they will ever be allowed to be happy.
• Human Gaze! Isn't this how The Stepford Wives got started?
Or at least Westworld. In either scenario... not a great day for humanity.
• Maggie! As if the casting of Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher wasn't brilliant enough... this promo for the upcoming fourth season of The Crown has a cover of "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths attached!
After this, there's only two seasons left to go. Then I guess the monarchy just ends? Or something?
• Semi-Annual! Here we are again... my second of two posts each year where I say that ending Daylight Saving Time is FUCKING STUPID. Either make D.S.T. permanent or fucking split the difference because I am seriously over this moronic bullshit. I thought that Washington State had put an end to the insanity, but apparently federal approval is required...
If the E.U. can pull their fucking heads out of their asses and put an end to this crap next year, why can't the USA? Because our federal government is too fucking busy lining their own fucking pockets and giving lobbyist blow-jobs for fucking reelection cash instead of serving the American fucking people. That's why. Time to fucking overhaul the government so lawmakers do their fucking job instead of become useless career assholes? Oh probably.
• New Mando! I swear, The Mandalorian has no right to be as good as it is. If you like all things "Star Wars" and haven't seen it, might be worth a Disney+ free trial to take a look. The second season just started and the first issue is great...
A better take on Star Wars than the prequels or sequels... and right up there with Solo and Rogue One which I loved. Kind of amazing how Jon Favreau kicked off the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and is responsible for saving Star Wars. I hope Disney is paying him really, really well.
And that's your post-Halloween bullets for the day.
Posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2020
Friday night when I got home I decided to make the Linguini Walnut cream Sauce that I had been craving all week. I never made it because I was too tired after work to even think about cooking or cleaning up the mess. Friday was no different, but I decided to do it anyway because I was tired of frozen burritos and peanut butter sandwiches.
I've made the recipe so many times that I just do it all from memory. Chop the shallots, add garlic and butter to soften, add crushed walnuts 'til toasted, cook pasta, add pasta, parmesan, mascarpone, sour cream, pasta water, salt, and pepper. Serve with parsley and parmesan. As usual I made extra so I had leftovers for a couple meals.
After cooking I threw together a salad and decided to post my amazing dinner to Facebook so everybody could be jealous that I was eating home-cooked fabulousness on a Friday night...
...and was mortified that I couldn't find a clean spot on my kitchen floor to photograph against. I had spilled stuff, dribbled stuff, and even had a leaky tub of ice cream which made messes that I wiped up but never truly cleaned. Eventually I gave up and zoomed in close so my dirty floor wouldn't show...
The following morning I took a hard look at my floors and couldn't believe how bad things had gotten. I'm meticulous about keeping my countertops spotless but, without guests to impress thanks to quarantine, I had been neglecting my floors. I hadn't steam-cleaned them in months, so I guess it was time. Once I was done I removed the cleaning pad and... holy shit...
THAT'S JUST FROM MY SMALL KITCHEN ALONE! Remember when I first got my steam-mop how mortified I was seeing the pad AFTER CLEANING MY ENTIRE HOME? This is what grossed me out after steaming a kitchen, living/dining room, two bathrooms, a laundry room, two hallways, and three bedrooms...
I've always been obsessive about keeping a clean house... especially my kitchen. It's highly disturbing that I've used the pandemic and subsequent lack of houseguests as an excuse to just "let things go," and this is where it's gotten me.
But I'm going to try and not beat myself up over it.
Like everybody else, the mental toll of being isolated while the world goes to hell has changed my perspective when it comes to things I allow myself to beat myself up over.
Eh. You know what I mean.
Posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020
Well, maybe not so much "love" as "acknowledgement." An acknowledgement that they too are a living creature on this earth and deserve to be cherished as any living creature should be.
Which is why I don't kill spiders or flies or anything else if I can help it.
All Hallows' Eve was a depressing affair. I bought Halloween candy thinking that I would figure out a way to pass it out in case trick-or-treaters showed up. But, alas, I ultimately decided it would be better to close the blinds, turn out the lights, disconnect the doorbell, and drink. In the near-five-years that I've lived here I've never had the blinds down. I didn't even know if they worked...
I ripped down the blinds by the cat tree so the cats wouldn't get caught up, so I had to board it up. Jake was not happy...
The drinking had more to do with ending Daylight Saving Time than being depressed at how shitty my Halloween had become, but you probably knew that already.
When I woke up Sunday morning the first thing I saw was a tiny fuzzy spider on my bedside table lamp. I took my chocolate graham crackers out of their Ziploc and used the bag to trap the little guy. And I do mean little, as you can see by the grain of sugar on his back...
It's a nice warm Fall day so I set him out in the sunshine, make sure he could walk okay, then took his picture...
It wasn't until I got back inside my home and looked down to admire my clean floors that I noticed I was in my underwear. I didn't think that I saw anybody out there with me... but didn't know for sure. Can they call the police for indecent exposure if you're outside in your drawers? Probably...
And now I guess it's time for me to willfully ignore Election Night coverage. I've voted and that's all I can do. Whatever happens happens and I'll find out about it tomorrow... or next week... or next month. In the meanwhile it's once again absurd how all these sites are forecasting a runaway election for Biden. I know better. We've been through it all before.
Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2020
And that's all I can do. That's all there is.
So last night I took a sleeping pill, watched a movie, then watched television until I fell asleep. There was no point fretting over whether or not limp Uncle Joe will limp-dick across the finish line with all those uncounted votes... or whether we get four more years of whatever the fuck this is. Odds are the Democrats will hold The House. Republicans will retain control of the Senate. And the president will be whomever they're gonna be.
I did fill in my best-guesses just for fun, however...
At the time I checked my news feed, Arizona seemed likely to be called for Biden... as determined by FOX "News," of all places... so I went with that even though I was truly questioning whether it would actually happen. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania seemed a safe bet for Biden because I read that much of the untallied votes were from larger cities where they tend to vote Democrat.
The big mystery of the night was Pennsylvania. Assuming I guess right on everything except Pennsylvania, that still doesn't seal the deal for Trump's reelection...
So I guess that's all she wrote?
On my lunch hour today, I took a look at Nate Silver's projections and got this...
Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina tipping for Biden seems unlikely... but given how crazy things are, I guess anything is possible. I think it will help people accept a Biden win if it's not as close as I was guessing (even though I fully realize his biggest fans will never accept it because he will never accept it). And, hey, none of this is a sure thing anyway. Remember 2016?
NPR, which tends to be more cautious about calling states while actually calling states looks like this...
Which means that if everything trending blue stays blue, the NPR-designated toss-up states won't matter and President Trump will still lose even if he sweeps them (which seems likely, with the exception of Arizona).
So I dunno.
Obviously I have never been a fan of President Trump. I sincerely doubt I will become a fan of Presumed-President Biden. But I can't help but think that I won't be gritting my teeth so much with the regime change that maybe-possibly-could be coming.
Given the horrific two-party system that we've married to, I guess that will have to do.
Posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2020
I've been buying less and less meal boxes from Martha Stewart and Marley Spoon because... A) They are expensive, and... B) It's sometimes tough to find two new recipes I want to try on the same week. Most of the older recipes I like have been made numerous times on my own for less money, so it's only the new ones I really care about. This week finally had two that I wanted to try, so I coughed up the money to pay for them.
Tonight was Indonesian Vegetable Nasi Goreng with Crispy Shallots...
I was dubious about the taste because the sauce has ketchup, vinegar, teriyaki sauce, chili garlic sauce, salt, and... sugar? But it was actually very good.
Last night was Black Bean & Quinoa Taco Bowl with Crispy Tortilla Strips. And I guess I owe an apology to Martha Stewart. I ordered this one even though I don't care for quinoa very much. I do love me a good taco bowl though, and it sure looked great in the photo...
It was a lot more work than I expected, but hey... TACO BOWL FOR DINNER! Then I got to the part of the recipe where you slop marinated romaine and tomatoes OVER HOT QUINOA AND SPICED BLACK BEANS! And I was all... BLECH! The lettuce is going to wilt immediately and I'm going to end up with a gross, sludgey, toxic mess. Bad Martha! But NOPE! Martha is always right, and I should have known she wouldn't endorse a bad recipe. This was ONE PHENOMENAL SALAD! Absolutely loved it, even though mine didn't look as nice as the photo...
And while it wasn't as good for my leftovers lunch as it was fresh, it was still pretty good...
Boy, gotta hand it to Martha's meal service... she's opened me up to so many amazing recipes that I never would have found on my own! And now I have two more. Both of which might actually be good for me? Say it isn't so!
Now that's some food for thought.
Because thought has to be put somewhere now-a-days.
Posted on Friday, November 6th, 2020
There's a feature in iOS 14 where you can have a "photo widget" on your home screen. It pulls photos from my phone that I see every time I wake it up. Most of the pictures displayed are of my cats because most of the photos on my phone are of my cats. But there are occasional photos of my travels... or my friends... or my mom and my family... or scenery I thought interesting enough to capture. Every once in a while it pops up with a photo I transferred from my "real" DSLR camera to my phone.
This morning when I woke up it was a penguin from my epedition to Antarctica...
I remember taking this shot with perfect clarity.
You are instructed not to approach within a certain distance of any wildlife... like six feet or something. But it's okay if wildlife approach you. It's not like if a penguin walks up that you have to turn tail and run away or anything like that. This happened to me a couple times. The first time was at Hydrurga Rocks where the above photo was taken. The penguin was bobbing along as penguins do when I dropped down to take a photo of him. He stopped, looked my way, then hopped over within a couple feet...
I would have offered him a fish if I had one on me, but I did not, so he gave me a once-over then wandered away...
And so I found myself thinking about this penguin for a good chunk of my morning. What's going on with him? Is he still around? Still healthy? Hasn't been eaten by a seal or something? How long does a penguin live anyway? What's the life of a chinstrap penguin?
Turns out the Chinstrap Penguin AKA Pygoscelis Antarcticus can live for up to 20 years.
So maybe he's still around. Swimming in ice-cold waters. Hunting for fish. Sunning himself on rocks. Doing whatever other penguin stuff that penguins do.
That would be nice.
I know thanks to climate change things are getting tough for arctic and antarctic wildlife, so it's nice to think that he's doing okay.
Or she's doing okay? Males and females look exactly the same and the only way I could ever tell was if they were next to each other since males are larger than females. Which is probably why they are the ones who end up fighting over pebbles to build nests? I should probably look into that one of these days. Maybe the next time a penguin pops up on my iPhone home screen.
Wouldn't want to misattribute penguin outrage.
In Washington State, so long as your ballot is postmarked by Election Day, it will still be counted even if it arrives at the polling station up to 20 days after Election Day. Obviously we are not a battleground state... WA is about as blue as blue can get thanks to the massive progressive voting block on the Seattle-side of the mountains... but, technically, our election is not over until November 23. So when I hear people in Washington going on a tirade because votes are still being counted in other states... it takes all my willpower to keep from telling them to take a seat. If we were a battleground state deciding the election and the vote was close, WE would be potentially delaying things for weeks. But it's all good. The Office of the President doesn't transfer until noon on January 20th.
Save your human outrage for something else.
Posted on Saturday, November 7th, 2020
Every Caturday I set aside time to make sure my cats are being well cared for by cleaning everything they come into contact with. I steam-clean their feeding station... take apart and clean their water fountain... make sure their Litter-Robot litter boxes are clean... inspect all their favorite sleeping spots and clean anything that needs it... take a quick look at their toys to make sure that they are all safe and not falling apart... that kind of thing. I'm pretty religious about it all because I know if I depended on somebody for all that stuff that I'd want a clean place to eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, and play.
The one thing I have not yet found a way to clean is the covers on their heated pads. They both love the things and are on them all the time. I've tried washing them in the washing machine, but cat hair and stuff stick to them like glue. I guess at some point I'm going to have to sew replacements that are easier to maintain.
In other heating pad news... they both seem to want to have their rear foot in their face while sleeping on them. I noticed this early in the week and keep seeing it...
Oh well. Whatever keeps them happy.
I've been keeping a close eye on Fake Jake every night to make sure he's made it to the warming pad in the shelter I set up for him. But sometimes he keeps an eye on me. Or at least comes over for a playdate with Real Jake...
Jake has kinda-sorta adapted to the end of Daylight Saving Time. Or, even if he hasn't, he at least stopped complaining. Jenny on the other hand? Holy crap. Not even a little bit. When 5:00pm rolls around she is ready to eat because to her it's 6:00pm and dinner time, even though I've been easing them into the time change 15 minutes at a time. And when the alarm doesn't sound for food? SO SALTY! She is mad, mad, mad. She just scrunches up into a little anger ball on her heating pad and glares at me...
Make no mistake... she is the sweetest cat ever... but she hates the whole dicking-with-the-clocks thing more than even I do, and I didn't think that was even possible.
I sure wish that belly rubs would distract her from things as easily as it does Jake...
Oh well. So thrilled to think that I get to do it all over again in six months.
Posted on Sunday, November 8th, 2020
The election may be (mostly) over, but don't destress just yet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• FAME! One of my earliest blogging friends is Heather Scarbro Dobson (formerly of Coal Miner's Granddaughter). She's an author and paranormal investigator living in Georgia. We've met up several times when I was in town for work and I've been on two investigations with her. The first was to Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky in 2011 (which I wrote about here). It was on that trip where we saw a board that had photos of all the "famous" paranormal teams who had investigated there. I knew none of them. But one of the photos stood out because it was a glossy, fully-staged production which had a team of brooding, pouty badboys... and it was autographed!
I mentioned to Heather that their tagline might as well be "Bustin' Ghosts and Breakin' Hearts!" And ever since then we've been joking back and forth about who the sexiest member of the team was. She picked Chris, I picked his brother Brannon, and we've had a faux fight going on ever since...
I mean, seriously, Brannon is totally the hottest, amiright? Anyway, Heather writes about the time that we met up in Jefferson City to go on an investigation with The Wraith Chasers in her new book, Recollections of a Future Ghost...
Naturally I wrote about the trip here on Blogography. If you want to read about it, here's your link.
• Count! I laughed way, way too hard at this...
The best part about visiting Australia is the Australians.
• Chappelle Show! Just like after the last election, the host for Saturday Night Live this election was Dave Chappelle. He is one of my most favorite comedians because his form of insightful commentary illuminates in a way comedy so rarely does...
"Don't let hunger dictate your life" is almost prophetic about where we're headed.
• Trebek! Many times, the host of a game show just has to rely on their personality to get the job done. It's not like Pat Sajak requires anything past the bare minimum of smarts to get through a game of Wheel of Fortune. But the host of a show like Jeopardy really has to be on their toes. They have to review all the clues prior to the show. Be sure to grab the right clue from 30 clues. Read the clue in a fluid way that makes it easy to understand. And be sure to pronounce even the most complex words from clues correctly in order for them to be correct. On top of having a winning personality. Alex Trebek has done all this by reading the answers on Jeopardy in the most brilliant way possible for years. That alone deserves kudos... but the fact that he was such a good sport about being lampooned over it all was what made him so beloved...
Trebek was parodied for years on Saturday Night Live, but the best bit was when the Alex Trebek himself made a cameo appearance...
Business Insider did a really cool behind-the-scenes with Trebek last year...
But my favorite appearance out of everything he's ever done? When he was a man in black on The X-Files...
What a sport. I've been watching Alex Trebek on Jeopardy for most of my life... and was saddened that he passed away at 80 years old today, losing his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was a truly great and talented personality and will be missed.
• Masked! At this point, I don't know why anything more on this subject needs to be said, but here you go...
Science has laid it all out on the table. There it is. Masks can halt the horrific effect of the pandemic and save lives. But too many people refuse to fucking listen, so here we are.
• Maya! I tell you... every single time I see Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris speak, all I can think of is just how totally on-point Maya Rudolph's impression of her is...
I sure hope that this means we'll be seeing more of her on Saturday Night Live!
• Burn! Soooo... is Bernie Sanders psychic?!? No. He just saw what so many people saw was going to happen...
"For whatever reason?" Come on, Bernie. Democrats were specifically told by Biden to vote safely by mail. Republicans were specifically told by Trump to vote in person. What happened is exactly what was always going to happen given how Republicans were cutting into Post Office operations, restricting drop-off locations, and doing whatever they can to delay or eliminate votes coming by mail... up to and including calling those votes "illegal" with no evidence at all. What's funny is that they also dictated in some states that votes couldn't be counted as they were received, but instead had to be counted after Election Day... once again to provide the illusion that votes were being "found" after Election Day. It's such a transparent load of bullshit. But that's politics for you. Don't hate the players, hate the game for allowing this kind of stupid shit to keep happening.
And that's your election coverage for this fine Sunday.
Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2020
When it comes to conspiracy theories and other crazy-ass crap, I assess everything according to an internal "Implausibility Index." I kinda have to, because I believe in things that are outside our ability to experience (or even conceive of), but fully believe in science and observational fact.
Flat Earth "Theory" has an Implausibility Index of 10.0 because you can literally observe that earth is a globe with your own two eye-holes. People have been doing it from before the time of Christ. Heck, Eratosthenes (a Greek mathematician) even calculated the size of the globe we live on by measuring the length of a shadow in two different far-apart places at the same time. It's just utter nonsense to think that the earth isn't a sphere and has been for thousands of years. But here we are.
I've never quite understood why people would willfully ignore loads of empirical evidence to believe in things that simply are not true. The only thing I can guess is that they just don't want truth to be true so badly that no amount of observable fact can change it.
Things like aliens or ghosts don't hit a perfect 10 because how can we really know? Their existence could be unobservable with our current abilities and technology.
I've always given God an even 5.0 because while I have always believed that there is something "more" than us (and choose to call whatever it is, "God"), I fully acknowledge that the idea of some omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God sitting up in the sky judging our exploits to be a bit farfetched. Wouldn't He, by possessing such abilities, automatically be above such petty nonsense? Especially since He made us how we are? God I hope so. It's for this reason that I can give Pat Robertson attributing hurricanes to gay marriage an Implausibility Index of 16.875. It's beyond all rational thought... entering a realm where the word "implausible" loses all meaning.
I don't know where I put the claims that Democrats "stole" the election yet. It's not a perfect 10.0 because, well, I don't put anything past politicians. It's a dirty, filthy game where power is the prize, and historically we all know where that leads. But the number has got to be really high. Probably in the 9's. It just doesn't make sense that Republicans like Mitch McConnell would still be in power if Republican votes were tossed out. It doesn't make sense that Republicans would gain seats in The House if votes were faked for Biden. It doesn't make sense that there will be a run-off election in Georgia if Republican votes were being suppressed. None of it makes sense. And every time somebody has cried "FRAUD!" it's been debunked (seriously, people, step outside your bubble and Google that shit). Odds are much higher that even Republicans were getting sick of President Trump's crap and wanted him out... but still wanted their state offices to be held by Republicans. That's not fraud, that's Republicans wanting a better presidential candidate to vote for.
Heaven only knows I understand it because I have voted Republican locally and Democrat nationally for decades. Locally Republican because the area where I live is completely fucked by Democrats or, even worse, forgotten by Democrats after Election Day.* — Nationally Democrat because the Conservative ideal of the government staying the fuck out of people's lives is ironically not embraced by Republicans. In my mind the votes just kinda balance each other out... even though my vote doesn't really matter in the end because Washington State is insanely blue for state and federal government and Eastern Washington is insanely red for local government. My vote just never matters all that much despite what you hear on television. Even this time where I refused to vote Republican out of protest. I am more than sick of President Trump's crap, and could not bring myself to support anybody who wasn't outright denouncing his outright lies and heinous behavior.
Two-party system and all that crap. Not like Republicans or Democrats are letting go of that any time soon.
*I used to be an Independent, but finally registered as a Democrat so I could vote for the Democratic candidate in primary elections which would fuck us over the least. It hasn't worked, of course. Democrats over in Olympia who fuck us the most time and time again still manage to get elected. Apparently Washington State, as a whole, just reeeeeally likes getting fucked by our politicians?** You got me.
**Could actually be said of the entire country, it would seem.
Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020
I am fortunate that my home is fairly energy efficient. It must have pretty good insulation to keep the heat out, because I barely have to run my air conditioning in the Summer. The Winter is a different story. It gets so cold where I live that the heat has to run often just to maintain a temperature of 72º F when I'm home. My smart thermostat drops to 70º F while I'm at work and 66º F when I'm sleeping. The cats don't seem to be much bothered, but they have heating pads to sleep on if things are too chilly for them. As for me? I wear wool socks and extra layers... and I have a heated throw for my couch and a heated blanket for my bed. It's not ideal, but it aves me a lot of money on my energy bill. And it works.
Except when it doesn't.
At around 2:30am I woke up with terrible leg cramps. And I was freezing.
Apparently the heated blanket on my bed has died.
The coldest I've ever been was not Antarctica. Not even close. The coldest I've ever been was at a Berlin train station in the middle of Winter. It was so cold that I couldn't feel my legs... and my fingers and toes (once I managed to heat them back up) were tingly for days. The second-coldest I've ever been was on top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine waiting for the sun to rise. That one was on me. I just had to get photos from the first place to see sunrise in the United States. Worth it though...
This morning was nothing that bad. But it sure felt like it. And so I guess I need to order a new hot blankey. This is a no-brainer purchase because the money saved on my power bill will pay for a new blanket in just one month. I toyed with the idea of trying to repair it, but I think an electric blanket is one of those rare cases where that isn't an option. It's just my luck I would screw something up in the electrical system and the blanket would burst into flames in the middle of the night.
Slightly worse than waking up cold, I think.
A shame it couldn't have failed closer to Black Friday though.
That's also just my luck.
Posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2020
Yesterday Apple resurrected Steve Jobs for a One More Thing event. And, try to check your shock, I'm going to talk about it!
Veteran's Day started early for me when the cats found a golf ball and decided to play with it in my bedroom... on my hardwood floors... AT 3:30 AM!! This is the golf ball that disappeared well over a year ago. As mentioned previously Jake can fit the ball in his mouth and carry it around. Before falling back asleep I heard them rolling it around downstairs but saw no sign of it when I went to feed them later this morning.
I honestly don't understand my cats. 99% of the time Jake and Jenny sleep when I sleep. I am almost never bothered or awakened by them at night. But every once in a while...
Ugh. Not. Enough. Coke Zero. To get me through this day.
I had planned on spending my Veteran's Day morning boxing up all the stuff I bought for my AnySoldier.com care packages so I can get them mailed for Christmas arrival. Instead I spent my morning taking a nap before work. THANKS, CATS!!!
And now back to Apple's third(!) "special event" of the season which, as expected, ended up being product announcements for their new Apple-based silicon Macs...
I'm not going to recap everything here. There are tech sites taking care of that. But I do have some thoughts. If you haven't seen the event and want to watch, here's where you can do that.
And that's that, I guess. There's no reason for me to buy any of the new M1 Macs. My MacBook Pro isn't even a year old and my work iMac is slower than I'd like at some things but still fully useable for everything I do. It's nice to think that by the time I'm ready to replace either of them, a far cheaper computer will likely be available that's more powerful than what I was using. If nothing else, that's my ultimate takeaway from Apple's "One More Thing."
Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2020
Back when my iPhone was mostly used as a phone, I didn't care so much about upgrading. But now that my iPhone is used mostly as a camera, getting the latest model has become increasingly important to me. The better my camera-phone gets, the less I have to lug around my "real" DSLR camera. And thanks to the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program I can actually afford to upgrade. This year, getting the best camera came with an added surprise... it's not available on the "Pro" model, it's only on the "Pro MAX" model. AKA Apple's "HUGE F#$!%@ PHONE" model. Knowing Apple has a two-week return policy, I decided to see if the MAX was something I could live with because I want that phone.
And today it arrived.
Let's just go straight to the elephant in the room... or, to be more accurate, the elephant in my hand. This phone is ridiculously huge. Almost bordering on comically impractically huge. And heavy. From a usability standpoint, Apple seriously should not have gone this large. Because there's simply no getting around the fact that this is a two-handed device. Even when Apple has features like a slim "side keyboard" for typing one-handed, you will still have way too many controls out of reach and end up using a second hand. Even when you have fairly large hands like I do.
But we'll get to that. We'll get to all of that
The packaging for my new iPhone is a classy, minimalistic affair. Apple kindly has pull-tabs on everything so it's easy to unwrap and open...
I bought the Pacific Blue color, which is very nice... though difficult to photograph. As has been widely reported, Apple does not include a charger or headphones. All you get is a cable. Apple says that this is because there are too many charger bricks out there already, but it's an absurd stance to take. The vast, vast majority of chargers are USB-A. Furthermore, even if you have a USB-C charger, it's very likely not the 20 watt brick which means you won't get fast charging. The brick I got with the 11 Pro is only 18 watt, so even last year's model isn't good enough. I guess I'm not too mad about it... my phone charges overnight so it can be slow... but it's still more than a little bit infuriating.
My favorite iPhone of all time is the iPhone 4. Absolutely stunning construction with that classy metal band holding everything together like a glass sandwich. They more-or-less carried over the design to the iPhone 5, but the 4 remained my favorite. Everything that followed was a step down... until Apple decided to resurrect the design for the iPhone 12 Pro. And, let me tell you, it's gorgeous. The band is now tinted stainless steel and looks amazing...
I deeply regret having to put a case on the thing because it's just so pretty, but I have to keep it in flawless condition for the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program. Oh well. When it comes to construction, the iPhone 12 Pro Max sure feels substantial and solid. The glass back is etched for grippability, but still feels a little slickery. The thickness seems the same as my old 11 Pro... with the exception of the camera bump which pokes out quite a bit more. So much more that the phone doesn't lay flat when you put a case on it and set it on a table. That's annoying, but it's the price you pay for the camera you get.
I'm going to break this out in it's own space because it' just so idiotic... the iPhone 12 line still doesn't use a USB-C jack for charging or connectivity! They finally moved iPad and Macs to USB-C, but iPhone is still tied to Apple's proprietary "Lightning" connector. This is just inexcusably stupid. Apple says they keep it because there's so many Lightning devices out there, but that's a laughably weak argument to make considering they've abandoned absolutely everything in their recent history. You are trying to tell us that there were not a lot of USB-A devices out there? Go sell that crap somewhere else. Just move to USB-C and get it over with.
A hallmark of Apple products is their ease of setup and use. But that's not always the case, and it seems that setup complications keep getting more and more severe while happening more and more often. Sadly, my iPhone 12 Pro MAX experience was far from ideal. The concept is that you set your old phone next to your new phone when you turn it on and everything transfers over. That part was fairly smooth. My activation and settings magically popped up with no problem. Mostly. Some apps, like Amazon Alexa and Schlage, required a login to get started. Other apps, like Smart Life and Hue, were ready to go immediately. No big deal. What was a big deal was when I got to my Apple Watch. You are not allowed to just click on the Watch app and have everything working. Nope! First you have to unpair with the old phone. Which would be fine. Except I couldn't make it happen because nothing... and I mean nothing I tried work. Either nothing happened or I couldn't get verified by the Apple ID Server...
After trying over and over and over to get past this, I finally Googled to see if I could do it another way. Turns out I could unpair by remotely wiping it from iCloud. Jeez. That was a mess with a lot of trial-and-error that took 20 minutes of my time, but eventually it happened. But that was only the beginning. THEN I got this...
Which sucks because now I'm going to have to change the password on all my Apple devices. It's just so phenomenally stupid. YOU HAVE TO LOGIN WITH YOUR CURRENT PASSWORD TO CHANGE THE PASSWORD. IF SOMEBODY WASN'T ABLE TO GET IN TO BEGIN WITH, WHAT DOES THIS SOLVE?!? As it turns out, nothing. Because THEN I got this...
And this is exactly what I was talking about. Apple's ease of setup is only good when it works. When it doesn't work, the entire system is a massive barrier to getting anywhere. After nearly an hour-and-a-half of work, I finally got my watch to unpair, erase, pair and restore. But holy crap what a stupid ordeal. Do better, Apple. This is Microsoft-Windows-level pathetic.
My iPhone arrived this morning at 11:15am at about 75% full. It's now 10:00pm and it's down to 50% full. My guess is that it only dropped that much because of all the setup and playing around I've been doing. It seems likely that I won't ever have to worry about battery life seeing as how I charge it every night and never once had my iPhone X or iPhone 11 Pro run out of power. I expect that it will continue not being a problem with the 12 Pro MAX. The MagSafe charging puck I ordered hasn't arrived yet, so I can't comment how it works or how fast it is with my 18 watt charger instead of the brand new 20 watt charger you're supposed to buy in order to get fast charging. The phone is so huge that it's tough to position on my Qi wireless charger and I'm assuming the MagSafe puck will be easier. It better be for $30.
The OLED Super Retina display is definitely pretty. It's bright and saturated and anything you put on it looks great, just like it did on my old iPhone 11 Pro. However... after having seen the new "ProMotion" display on my iPad Pro which refreshes at 120 Hz, the poky 60 Hz refresh rate on this phone seems almost primitive. Other manufacturers have gone to 120 Hz, so I don't know what the deal is with Apple. My guess would be battery life, but it seems weird that they haven't been able to figure it out so that the user can choose whether display or battery is important to them. I barely use 25% of my battery each day, so I'd absolutely click the preference for ProMotion. Because once you've seen the buttery-smooth optics of a high refresh rate, going backwards is really quite jarring. For Apple's sake, I hope iPhone 13 Pro has ProMotion, because anything less is pretty embarrassing.
For some reason I thought that massive size of the MAX would have better sound than the "standard" size iPhone Pro. This doesn't seem to be the case. Out of their respective cases, the sound is not noticeably different between my old phone and new phone. Not that this is disappointing... far from it. I still cannot fathom how Apple manages to get such phenomenal sound out of a frickin phone that's so thin. No, it's never going to rival what you can get out of a dedicated speaker, but what you do get is better than I ever expect.
And so here we are. Remember how I was talking about how the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 were my favorite iPhone designs of all time? One of the things I loved about them was how beautifully compact they were. When I made the jump from iPhone 8 to the iPhone X, the size increase was tough to take. Jumping up again to the MAX is beyond tough to take. Just look at the iPhone 5 next to my new iPhone 12 Pro MAX...
The MAX is what's considered a "phablet," which is a hybrid phone/tablet. I never thought I would own one. Who wants a massive phone to lug around? The jump from 11 Pro to 12 Pro MAX looks like this...
After spending the day with it, I'm still not sure how I feel about the size. I really hate not being able to operate it one-handed. With practice I might be able to get some functionality back, but way too many controls are always out of reach. It's hugely frustrating. On the plus side, the other size-related drawbacks that I thought would be a problem ended up not being a problem at all. It fits in my pockets just fine (shirts, pants, jeans, and jackets). I can shoot with the camera one-handed. It's not uncomfortable to hold or use as a phone. And it doesn't seem to get in my way like I imagined it would.
When it comes to what I like about the size? That large screen is phenomenal for looking at photos. This cannot be overstated. The difference is not subtle. It may not seem like a massive change on paper, but the MAX feels more like looking at a photograph. I absolutely love that. I think back to all the times I've shown people images from my phone and how they have to squint and put their face up to it... and it's hard to imagine going back. And then there's gaming. Slow 60 Hz refresh rate aside, the larger size is SO much nicer for playing games. And watching movies. And reading. And just looking at... well... everything. The larger size allows for things to display a touch larger as well, so if you have aging eyes like mine it offers a slightly better experience to boot.
My guess is that I will be keeping the MAX rather than returning it for the "regular" 12 Pro. Even setting the superior camera aside, there are too many nice things about the large screen I'm enjoying which offset the inconvenience of having to use two hands sometimes.
The initial hot take from reviewers who got an advanced phone sent to them was that the photography difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone Pro 12 MAX was not quite the leap everybody was expecting. The larger sensor does have slightly less noisy images in low-light... but it's nothing mind-blowing. You get more detail in the shadows... but not so vast that most people will notice. There's extra length on the telephoto at 2.5x vs. 2x... but it's not going to make a massive difference in the long run (so to speak). The sensor-shift optical stabilization reduces shake a bit... but not so much that you'll be able to get radically sharper photos while moving. It's all subtle degrees of change instead of some kind of revolution. And yet... I will take whatever advantage I can get, no matter how small. Most all I care about when it comes to my iPhone is the photos I can take. If the MAX is what it takes to get the best, then that's what I want.
Though the difference between 12 Pro and 12 Pro MAX cameras may not be huge, the difference between them and my 11 Pro very much is. The first photo I took was of Jake when he plopped down next to me after I got home. It was starting to get dark, so it wasn't especially bright. First I shot it with the 11 Pro, which dropped into 1-second Night Mode and got me this image (cropped to about 70%)...
Then the 12 Pro Max, which did not drop into Night Mode, got me this image (cropped to about 70%)...
Now, I don't mind saying that I was a little disappointed. They both look similar, don't they? The 12 Pro MAX is a little bit more clear, but that's just because it didn't have to expose the scene for a full second. Then I zoomed in further and saw just how much more clear the 12 Pro MAX is. Here's the 11 Pro...
And here's the 12 Pro MAX...
And... there it is. This is why I'm so grateful that Apple has an iPhone Upgrade Program which allows me to afford to upgrade every year. This is not a small difference. This is huge. The 12 Pro MAX has superior imaging which will allow me to zoom in tighter... print larger... and do more... with every shot I take. And this is just the first photo I took! I can't fathom what I'm going to see when I goof around with the camera over the weekend. I'm guessing I'm going to be blown away. I expect to be blown away.
One thing I'm dying to experiment with is Apple's new ProRAW photo image format. The file size is around 25 MB... each... but there's more information with less artifacts and a higher dynamic range. And the raw data you capture isn't touched as you adjust it in the Photos app, so the image doesn't degrade. You can always go back to exactly what you captured at any time. I won't be shooting ProRAW for casual shots, but I'm very excited at having it available when I'm shooting serious shots. Vacation scenery shots, portraits, photos for work... any time the bigger file is worth it. Alas, ProRAW isn't coming until iOS 14.3 which hasn't come out yet, so something to look forward to.
I'm sure early next week sometime I'll be posting photos I've been taking.
I ordered the (PRODUCT)RED version of the silicone case along with my iPhone like I always do. The red color makes it easy to spot, it will look all Captain America with my blue phone, and the Apple-branded cases have always been quality. The fact that some of the profits go towards fighting AIDS in Africa is just icing on the cake. Now Apple has a new "iPhone Studio" tool where you can see what your iPhone will look like when paired up with various color cases and MagSafe wallets...
The new MagSafe that intelligently (and magnetically) attaches things to the back of your phone actually is pretty cool. My case is red, so when I pop it on the phone it is able to recognize that and give you a cool special effect that pulses across your display...
Had my case been green, the effect would be green, and so on. A nice touch.
Nice as the iPhone 12 Pro MAX is, it's not a foregone conclusion that I'm keeping this phone. There are times that I am not bothered by the massive size... there are times that it's just so overwhelming that I don't know if I can live with it. Maybe after a week it will seem "normal" but it sure doesn't now. I hate that it's so bad for working with one-handed. Part of that is just not being able to grip something so big. But a chunk of that is also Apple and 3rd party developers not doing a good job of adapting their apps to function well on a huge display like this.
...I pick up my old iPhone 11 Pro and it feels like a toy (I pick up my old iPhone 5 and it feels like it's fake). I love that bigger display so much that any time I drop back to a phone without it the thing feels wrong somehow.
I guess I'll have to wait and see.
Once thing I do know is that I can't wait to see what kind of photos I can get out of it.
Posted on Saturday, November 14th, 2020
What a day, right?
This evening at 5:10pm, Jenny came running in like she heard the Alexa alarm go off for dinner. I was forced to explain that no, Jenny, you're just being silly... there's 50 minutes until it's dinner time. This was her reaction...
And then I got this for the next 15 minutes until she got bored and took a before-dinner nap...
Not that Jake gets a pass. This was him on Friday morning waiting impatiently for breakfast...
Eventually Jake ran out of the room... but don't worry, he was waiting in his box downstairs for me as usual...
And right now? I just want to put my feet up. But alas...
Such is my life with cats.
Posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2020
Washington State may be going back into quarantine, but the blogging will continue... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hallmark! Just in case you're curious... yes, I am watching all the new 2020 Hallmark Christmas movies (and Hallmark-like imitators) which you can see right here. Looks like I'd save myself a lot of time if I just watched this...
This is so accurate that I feel attacked!
• Drink! And while we're talking Hallmark... FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MOVIE DIRECTORS... STOP GIVING ACTORS EMPTY FUCKING CUPS TO "ACT" WITH! IT NEVER WORKS. IT ALWAYS LOOKS STUPID AND FAKE WITHOUT WEIGHT IN IT, AND IT MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE AN INCOMPETENT DUMBASS FOR NOT KNOWING THIS. And it's ten times WORSE when you then have them actually pretend to drink from the stupid thing. NO ACTOR ON THIS EARTH CAN MAKE PRETEND-DRINKING LOOK AUTHENTIC SO GIVE IT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!!! This should be Directing 101.
• Wallet! I like the idea of the MagSafe connector on the back of my new iPhone 12 Pro Max because it seems a smart way to stick stuff to your phone and stick your phone to stuff. Handy. Apple's first product was the MagSafe charging puck which aligns a wireless charger to your phone precisely for optimal charging. I ordered one even though it feels overprices because the Max is so large I can't see my Qi charger under it very well. The second product is a leather card wallet. The reviews were fairly savage... fueled by the usual anti-Apple bias that seeps into even Apple fan sites. The main complaints are A) It only holds 3 or 4 cards, and B) It falls off too easily. I thought this was silly because A) If you want to hold more than 3 or 4 cards, get a wallet, and B) If you want something that glues to your phone, get some velcro. Personally my two complaints are A) It's seriously expensive at $60, and B) I'd rather it not be made from leather. And now this...
Exactly. Nailed it. Now I kinda want one. And would consider it if it were $40 instead of $60. Oh well.
• Plan! Oh wow! They did a quarantine episode of Plan Coeur (AKA The Hook Up Plan)! And it's good! No worries, they have subtitles in English available on Netflix. You will definitely want to watch both the first and second seasons in order to know what's happening, however. Fortunately Netflix has those as well...
This show would have been so much better without Elsa's stupid-as-hell overreaction with becoming "natural." It went way, way overboard and I cannot fathom how they thought it was a good storyline for her. So idiotic. But everybody else was great. And that ending was worth it. Can't wait for the third season.
• Coke! Looks like the Coca-Cola Company were smart enough to hire Taika Waititi to direct this bit of Christmas magic...
No polar bears in this one, but still pretty darn good.
• TAKE MY MONEY! Anybody who reads my blog might know that my character of "Bad Monkey" is an unholy mashup of Curious George and Max the bunny from Sam & Max. Now Nintendo Switch is getting a remaster of one of their classic video game adaptation...
I played the game ages ago. I can't wait to revisit it again.
• Symptomatic. "People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings ... show this to be likely," said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Oxford. — So... yeah... all the more reason to do your best to not contract COVID-19, as if there weren't enough reasons already. Pity the deniers keep dragging this out and making it worse for all of us.
And that's the end of bullets as I return to more even isolation than I was already isolating.
Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2020
Yesterday Washington State's governor released a new lockdown measure in the hopes that the latest wave of infections sweeping the country won't overwhelm our hospitals. As you can imagine, there's some serious outrage happening here. I have no idea what else they're supposed to do. Are we just supposed to ignore the pandemic until people are dying in the street because the health care infrastructure is maxed out? Daily death tolls keep climbing even though doctors and scientists have a better handle on things and people have a better chance of surviving now. What this means is that more people are being infected than ever before and COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever before. Something has to be done.
So, yeah. Let's just be extra cautious for a while until we have a vaccine in the new year. Hopefully serious illness rates can be slowed down enough that there's hospital beds for those who need them. This is not some evil master plan to control people, it's just a common sense approach to dealing with a population containing people who refuse to wear masks and refuse to be careful, thus fucking it all up for the rest of us.
Man. Can you imagine if we had just locked everything down for two solid weeks and rolled out massive testing back in March? Maybe then we'd be like New Zealand who listened to science and have all but eliminated COVID-19. Twice.
Oh well. It is what it is... our response was our response... and now we're paying the consequences. Again.
Story of my life, Year 2020.
Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2020
My biggest iPhone disappointment was the iPhone 6. I bought it direct from AT&T in September of 2014. It was a terrific phone at the start. It had the first "Retina" display and everything on it looked amazing. It was fast. It finally had the ability to shoot 1080p HD video. The photos on it were a clear step up from the iPhone 5 released two years prior. It was a good purchase that I was happy to have made.
But then... right around the time the iPhone 7 was released in September of 2016... everything started turning to shit.
All my apps were slow to launch, sluggish to use, and it didn't make any sense. Apple Support had me reset the phone and reinstall everything. Didn't work. Then sometime in mid-2017 the battery started malfunctioning. I'd charge it up and it wouldn't last me a day of light use. I was traveling somewhere... Salt Lake City maybe?... and made an appointment with the local Apple Store because I just couldn't take it anymore.
The Apple Genius looked at it or hooked it up to something or ran a diagnostic app or whatever. They told me that it was operating normally for its age and maybe I should upgrade if it was a problem. Or I could pay out-of-pocket for the battery to be replaced (my AppleCare had expired).
I absolutely didn't want to buy a new phone since Apple was most certainly releasing a new model in a few months. But because I needed a reliable phone for my work travel, I bought an iPhone 7 off of eBay for cheap, and used that until the iPhone X was unleashed a few months later in November of 2017.
Like I said, it didn't make sense At. The. Time.
But now we know that Apple was intentionally slowing phones down in order to extend battery life. Which would have been fine if I knew what was happening and had a choice to turn this "feature" off and on. But I wasn't told, I didn't have a choice, and Apple's "solution" was to buy a new phone.
That's "Batterygate" in a nutshell.
Today I found out that there was a class-action lawsuit where Apple agreed to pay out million of dollars in compensation to people like me who got burned by "Batterygate." But here's the problem... I never knew about the lawsuit. Never received any communication from Apple about it. Never had a chance to participate before the October 6, 2020 deadline.
And I am pissed.
Even if I were to only get a $25 gift card settlement or some other silly amount that in no way approached the money I had to pay for my second-hand iPhone 7, at least I would get something.
I know that only the lawyers end up getting rich off of these lawsuits and I likely wouldn't get much of anything, but you'd think that since Apple and AT&T had a record of my purchase they would be obligated to contact me.
Oh well. Even more money for the lawyers, I guess.
Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
I bought a NAS (Network Attached Storage) in order to access my work files from anywhere and store all my media. It's been working (mostly) flawlessly and has been a real convenience. But over the last couple weeks I've been having power brown-outs which cause my NAS to go down. And every time that happens I have to rebuild everything and run a file integrity check. It's a real pain because my files are inaccessible for hours.
My power has gone out maybe twice in the five years I've lived here. I don't know what's changed that suddenly it's been so unreliable, but I decided to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for my NAS. That way the battery in the UPS can power my NAS through a brownout. And if the power goes out, the UPS is smart enough to talk to my NAS and tell it to shut down safely before it runs out of battery.
I ordered a CyberPower 800VA/450W unit for $85 because it was more than enough for my needs. It was also small enough to mount behind my media center. Or was it?
NO! NO IT WAS NOT!
I didn't have enough solid material on the media center to mount something so heavy. So I claimed the draw next to my NAS Drawer and made it into a UPS Drawer...
My NAS, Internet Router, and Smart Home Hub are on battery backup on the left. Other devices are surge-protected but not backed up on the right. Now during a brownout or blackout, my NAS files will be safe and I'll still have internet (assuming the power outage doesn't take out my fiber). Nice!
Every time I want to change the electronics on my media center, I end up ripping everything out and cleaning up the wires on the back. Believe it or not, this mess is half the wires I used to have before I merged some devices, got rid of satellite television, and left my Nintendo Switch as my sole video game...
Something I thought would take me an hour ended up taking just over three hours. But it was worth it because after plugging in a USB cable from my NAS to my UPS it was recognized right away...
According to the NAS control panel, I have over an hour of battery backup power available. My guess is that the addition of an internet router and smart home hub will knock that down to about 45 minutes. Which is plenty of time to survive any brownout and most blackouts...
$85 plus tax was certainly more than I wanted to spend on this thing... but it's a huge weight off my mind to know that my NAS files will be safe when there are power problems.
Here's hoping that everything is working correctly. I'm sure I plugged in something wrong somewhere.
Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2020
The iPhone Upgrade Program return kit showed up today. Which means I guess it's time for me to decide whether or not I'm keeping the iPhone 12 Pro MAX pretty quick.
Because there's no way I'm giving up the iPhone 12 Pro MAX. Yes, I was concerned about it's MASSIVE size, but in less than a week I've just kinda adapted to it. And really adapted to that big, beautiful screen. Sure there are times I'd rather not have to deal with something so big, but the pros vastly outweigh the cons, and there's no going back for me.
So my beautiful Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro which has served me very well, was boxed up and will be handed over to FedEx tomorrow.
What also showed up today? My MagSafe wireless charging puck...
One thing I should get out of the way is that the magnets are strong. The puck really "sticks" to my iPhone and equally well to my Project RED iPhone silicone MagSafe case. Very nice. It gives you a satisfying "click" when it snaps into place. I like it very much.
Just like my case provides a visual animation on the display when you pop it on, the puck too gives you an animation which starts like this...
Then gives you a quick flash on the charge of your battery...
All is not perfect, however. First of all, the 20 watt charging brick which allows fast-charging is not included. No charging brick is included. That's a $20 separate purchase from Apple. I have the 18 watt charging brick from my old iPhone 11 Pro, so I'm just going to use that. Since I charge my phone overnight, fast charging isn't necessary. Note that if you decide to use a brick of your own, you will not only not get fast charging, you will have to make sure that it's USB-C, not USB-A (like most all charging bricks are, including those that came with all iPhones prior to the 11).
The puck/cable itself is minimalist and even pretty, if you're into that aethstetic. I am concerned with where the cable meets the puck though. It looks like it could follow suit for every iPhone "Lightning" cable Apple has ever made and break quite easily. That's a big yikes for a $30 item.
Ultimately I think bringing MagSafe to the iPhone is handy and cool. I wish it was still a thing on my MacBook... and it eventually transitions to the iPad. I just wish it wasn't so dang expensive. Cheaper alternatives will be coming from third parties (indeed they already have been), but I don't know if I would trust it with such an expensive toy as an iPhone.
In other news, Dr. Fauci was surprisingly a part of the dog-and-pony show press conference on COVID-19. After President Trump repeatedly attacked Fauci, mused about firing Fauci, and essentially muzzled Fauci... I audibly gasped when he was trotted out along with Vice President Pence and others.
Dr. Fauci's statement on the vaccines was highly encouraging. I was dubious about the effectiveness claims being made, but Fauci laid it all out and essentially calmed any concerns I had. So I, for one, will be getting a vaccination just as soon as somebody like me is able to get it (assumably I will come after health care workers, the elderly, the sick, and the hospitalized). Sure something might go wrong. That's always a risk with new medication (as I found out after taking Accutane), but I'm old with cats as my only dependants so I'll take the risk. Gladly. Whatever it takes to get our lives back to "normal" again.
I have no idea what the anti-vaxxer brigade is going to do. Assumably they're going to take a big ol' pass on getting vaccinated. Which is extremely selfish and shitty, but typical. I don't feel sorry for them if they get sick and die, or lose lung capacity, or end up with brain chemistry problems, or whatever other heinous health problems that survivors end up with. Who I feel sorry for are their children. More and more science is attributing serious health problems... likely lifelong serious health problems... to child COVID-19 survivors. Madness.
And I really feel for immunosuppressed persons who might like to get vaccinated but can't. How shitty that their very lives are in the hands of assholes?
Oh well. Hasn't that always been the case for all of us?
Posted on Friday, November 20th, 2020
Back in October I purchased new wiper blades and wiper fluid for my car, then made an appointment to get my snow tires put on. I also created a grocery list for all the things I would need to take to Thanksgiving dinner. After an entire year of not being able to see family and friends, I was more than a little excited that I would finally be making a trip over the mountains to see everybody.
Then the pandemic exploded. Again.
Thanks to people who are entirely too careless, COVID infections are on the rise, hospitals are filling up, and the recommendation is to avoid family gatherings until things calm down again. Especially if you have existing conditions which make contracting the virus potentially fatal. I've struggled with my breathing for the past decade, so I'm especially screwed if I get a serious case of The 'Rona. Especially if the hospitals are full up and there's no place for me to go if shit hits the fan. And since I'm absolutely certain that entirely too many people will totally be having unsafe Thanksgivings, I guess that's all she wrote for my Veggie Turkey Day celebration.
And then today was the appointment for my tire change.
I was going to cancel, but since I had to run into The Big City to drop off my old iPhone at Fed-Ex anyway, I decided to just keep it.
The experience was more depressing than I anticipated.
Getting tires changed so I can stay at home? So much fun.
My hope is that things calm down enough that I at least get to have a Christmas dinner with family. But if everything explodes yet again because of Thanksgiving idiocy, I suppose that's going to be a goner too.
Is it any wonder that I'm getting that COVID vaccination the minute it becomes available?
My cats are great and all but, so far as the holidays go, being stuck at home with them is not my ideal way to celebrate.
Posted on Saturday, November 21st, 2020
Lockdown isn't boring when you have cats!
This morning while I was getting out of the shower I heard a "whomp! whomp! whomp!" I was pretty sure that it wasn't ghosts, so the only explanation was that Jake or Jenny had found something new to entertain themselves. As I was getting dressed, I heard it again... "whomp! whomp! whomp!" When I ran out into the hallway and didn't see anything, I looked down the stairwell and saw this...
Well, obvious that innocent little face wasn't capable of getting into any trouble, so I was at a loss to explain what happened. Until I was walking downstairs and noticed this...
Apparently Jenny is back to redecorating.
And speaking of Jenny...
If you've ever wondered the look you get when you administer butt scratches wrong, this would be it...
Fortunately I seemed to be able to do belly rubs correctly...
Now I guess I should go straighten all the posters in my stairwell and see how long they stay that way.
Posted on Sunday, November 22nd, 2020
Time may wait for no one, but time definitely waits for this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Wonder Max! And so... Wonder Woman 84 is coming to HBO Max on Christmas Day. And I will absolutely be subscribing to HBO Max for a month to watch it. My enthusiasm for theaters has lessened more and more over the years thanks to rude people talking on phones and texting... theaters not replacing projector bulbs when they start to dim... and the absurd cost of snacks. The only time I ever go to theaters are to watch the latest Marvel Studios films or when invited by friends. I'm MUCH happier watching at home. And yet... some of the big budget films (like Marvel Studios movies) rely on box office revenue to justify the money investment. If theaters go under because they can't wait out the pandemic, what does that mean for the movies I love?
Still... kudos to HBO Max for not charging extra to see the film like Disney+ did with Mulan.
• Maximum! The advertising "feud" between Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman keeps getting better...
But they've been pretty funny in their own ads as well...
Even when they appear in each other's ads...
And let's not forget Ryan's ad from last Christmas...
If only all of Hollywood put such effort into their charity endeavors.
• Hallmark? Let's see...
Big city executive goes back to their small town for Christmas: ✓ CHECK!
Small town has an unbelievably wholesome and cheesy name: ✓ CHECK!
White cast, but Person of Color best friend: ✓ CHECK!
Runs into some country hick that gets dismissed: ✓ CHECK!
Country hick has unexpected depth that city-slicker was too ignorant to see: ✓ CHECK!
Christmas romance ensues: ✓ CHECK!
Man and woman live happily ever after: WAIT ONE DANG MINUTE!!!
Not Hallmark after all... Paramount Network.
• Life Day! I am old enough that I actually saw the original Star Wars Holiday Special back in 1978 when it aired on television. Back then it was the only new "Star Wars" available since the movie was released the previous year. It was horrifically bad. Phenomenally horrifically bad. Forty-two years later and LEGO is giving us an all new version...
While nothing great, it's darn clever... mashing up all the various Star Wars characters throughout space and time. It's also funny. And far, far, better than the original live-action version. That's LEGO for you.
• Muties! I detested the FOX X-Men movies. They were all pathetic cash-grabs that in no way lived up to the promise of the comic book source material. I did like X-Men: First Class and kinda liked The Wolverine, but that's it. Everything else was garbage. When it comes to The New Mutants, I was a fan of the comic book during its Claremont and Sienkiewicz run. The movie is very loosely inspired by their "Demon Bear Saga" story arc from The New Mutants 18-20...
What was promoted as a super-hero horror flick wasn't very scary at all. I was 100% bored and regret having spent $6 to rent the thing. It's mostly just angsty teens calling each other "bitch" and "asshole." What a waste. But, as the final film from the whole FOX Marvel super-hero era, why did I expect it to be anything else?
• Do You Know Bo? As good as The Mandalorian was in its first season, it's really knocking things out of the park in the second season. The most current episode is the best thing to come out of Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back. I won't spoil it. But I will say that LAST week's episode was incredibly rewarding. Especially if you watched The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons...
Look, there's some things that don't quite add up with Bo-Katan, I am fully admitting this. But can we just be happy that she made the leap from animation to The Mandalorian? Can't we just be grateful that Katee Sackhoff was asked to play the character since she was the voice in the original cartoons? Can't we just assume that some things about her appearance won't be explained, and we'll just have to fill in the gaps with TV magic or something? Because, I gotta say, her showing up caused me to squeeeee my ass off. In The Big Picture this works just fine. Don't get caught up on too many of the tiny details... just enjoy it.
And that's enough bullets for me. I'm out of time after all.
Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2020
I'm experiencing a tea renaissance. Last night I had some amazing Winter Chai and I'm still thinking about it this morning. I stopped drinking tea for the longest time, but took it up again when I was served some amazing native tea in Laos back in 2013. After a couple years I started favoring sodas, but now I'm drifting back into tea-land again. Figured I might as well since the tea I ordered for my 2020 guests in January (that wouldn't end up coming thanks to the pandemic) will have to be replaced soon anyway... even though I froze it to keep it fresh like you're supposed to.
Winter Chai Blend from Tea Forté, whose pricey teas I love.
I have a free pizza to thank for my renewed interest in drinking tea.
Last week I went out for groceries and got yet another free pizza. Safeway/Albertsons is forever giving away free pizzas with purchase of something else. And since the "something else" is usually something I'm buying anyway, I always grab one. I don't like frozen pizza, but I'm not going to pass up on free food. This was my fourth free cheese pizza and I had to make room in the freezer by tossing out some old stuff I shouldn't have been saving in the first place... and drinking my tea stash. From there I moved on to cleaning out the refrigerator and found a full carton of eggs hidden behind the fresh carton I just bought. I don't even remember having bought them. I don't shy away from expired foods, but eggs that are a month past their "Best Before" date are probably a gamble I shouldn't be taking, so down the garbage disposal they went.
Last night I had one of those free cheese pizzas for dinner. It was the last thing I wanted to eat, but I didn't have room for my next freebie so I thought I should whittle down my pile. My attitude ended up being "Sure I don't want it, but does it even really matter?"
And it's at that point I realize I've been saying that to myself a LOT recently...
"Does it even really matter?"
Because, seriously, does any of that really matter? No. Not really. Dishes left in the sink. Cleaning that needs to be done. Projects that are lingering. Things I need to stay on top of. It just doesn't matter. Life is just a self-isolating blur of tedium sameness, and I'm mired in it like quicksand.
About the only thing that matters are my cats. Where I'm happy to just let things go in my life, I refuse to let anything go in theirs. I still steam clean their feeding station. I still wash their food dishes and water fountain. I still clean their beds. I still collect their toys. I still play with them. I still drop everything when they want attention. I still do everything I can to make sure they're cared for.
Just like after my mom died, I probably owe it to Jake and Jenny that I find the willpower to keep going day after day. Mostly because they are about the only thing I've going for me right now. But partly because I don't want to keel over and die and have them eat me.
Though with all these exotic teas I've been drinking lately, I'll bet I'm delicious.
Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
There's a meme running through TikTok of people recording their face before and after watching a short animated film on Netflix called If anything happens I love you. It's parents dealing with the aftermath of their daughter dying in a school shooting.
The "before" shots are mostly TikTokers with a normal look on their face... or whatever passes for "normal" now-a-days. The "after" shots are always people in emotional distress... crying and looking helpless. Some people even recorded an occasional reaction during the movie. Bawling their head off halfway through and whatnot. Suffice to say, there's a lot of crying going on in TikTokLand.
And while I thought it's a lovely little feature with excellent animation and really nice music... I felt... nothing.
Well, maybe I felt anger. It's tough not to be angry when there are people so damaged that they would shoot up a school, and we have a society content to let it keep happening. Mental health problems are stigmatized and mortally underfunded in this country, and that just fuels our horrific, upsetting, terrifying, and profoundly sad violence-laden world. Unfortunately, this is exactly what our "normal" is now.
Well... then-now. Not now-now due to school closures during the pandemic. Probably future-now though, because we never learn a damn thing.
And it's because of it that I feel mostly nothing when I see the raging debate over guns reignite once again.
I've gone over my feelings on this subject many times before on this blog. Banning guns is a painfully short stop-gap measure which will ultimately fail. We are this close to being able to 3-D print an assault rifle in the comfort of our own homes. THIS. CLOSE. So unless people are going to be monitored 24-7 to make sure they aren't crafting weapons in their basement to use or sell, we have a serious problem on the horizon whether current weapons are factored in or not.
I don't pretend to know what the answer is, but it doesn't take an Apple Genius to see that diffusing the hate that's escalating every damn day is a good start. Whether that happens by getting our leaders and media to stop being such hate-mongering assholes... working mental health into our education curriculum... destigmatizing mental health problems... making it easier and free to get mental health assistance... providing better monitoring of those with a violent history... stopping creation of conditions which drive people to the kind of desperation which can result violent acts... or one of a hundred other things. Because if we don't start doing something Real Soon Now we're in some deep shit. Or rather we're in deeper shit than we already are.
But hey. We can't even get people to wear a damn mask so the moisture from their breath isn't spreading a potentially lethal virus. How the fuck are we going to get people to give a shit about the mental health of other people or, more importantly, themselves?
Good luck with that.
Because just like people who only believe that COVID exists when their lungs are failing, they're not going to give a shit or think it's a problem... until it happens to them.
Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
You can't stop progress. Or whatever passes for progress now-a-days.
Seattle has some iconic landmarks... The Space Needle... Pike Place Market... The Seattle Public Library... it's a unique city with a unique and interesting history (and if you want to know just how interesting, then the book for you is Sons of the Profits: There's No Business Like Grow Business. The Seattle Story, 1851-1901).
One landmark which Seattle recently lost was the Elephant Car Wash sign. I've seen it many, many times driving into the city... usually on the way to The Seattle Center. The sign has been there since before I was born...
Image taken from Google Maps Street View
Image taken from Google Maps Street View
But now it's been taken down...
Image by Alan Berner / The Seattle Times
It was inevitable that it had to come down one day.
But it seems strange that I've outlasted it. At least at this location. It's being moved to permanent display at the Museum of History and Industry. I am trying to picture driving down Denny Way and it not being there.
Maybe it would be best if I just circumnavigate the location in the future so I don't have to?
That way I can stop progress just a bit. If only in my head.
Posted on Thursday, November 26th, 2020
It's not that I don't have anything to be thankful for.
I have so much. And I try to appreciate that. Honestly I do. I haven't managed to catch COVID yet. I still have a job. I have a roof over my head and something to eat. I have friends that mean the world to me (even though I don't ge to see them). I have my cats.
There are a great many people who have far less.
This was my day today...
Happy Thanksgiving to me.
And to you.
Posted on Friday, November 27th, 2020
It's Black Friday. The one day of the year I allow myself to buy stuff I want instead of stuff I need. I put away $100 a month all year long in order to afford things like better quality clothes... tools for my wood-shop... electronics. You know... stuff.
This year I had to spend $380 of my Black Friday savings on a ridiculously expensive WiFi router when my old one died. Then I had to spend $470 on crazy stuff like food and HOA dues. So... $350 left. The plan was to put it on a new Milwaukee Tool table saw. But it’s conveniently "sold out" absolutely everywhere so stores can exclude it from their sales. I’m sure it will mysteriously be back in stock come Monday. That’s the way 2020 goes, it would seem. I’d buy some new clothes, but what for? I’m not going anywhere. So who cares? I guess now I have a $350 head start for 2021. Just think of all the superfluous crap I can buy next Black Friday!
I did treat myself to a bowl of Apple Jacks though, so I guess my Black Friday wasn't a total loss?
Apple Jacks. The apple cereal that tastes absolutely nothing like apples... but I love it anyway. I just can't eat them every day. Because sugar. Loads of sugar.
When I was a kid, however, I had a bowl of sugar-infused cereal every single morning before heading off to school. As I started working and traveling heavily in my twenties, I eventually phased breakfast out of my diet. It was either too inconvenient or too expensive to consider. The only time I ate breakfast when traveling was when it was included in my room rate, because that meant I could save money by skipping lunch. Occasionally I slip back into a cereal renaissance where I'll eat it for a while, but I always end up moving away from it again. Because sugar. Loads of sugar.
When my mom was living with me, getting her to eat anything was tough. The only way I could get her to eat was to take her to a restaurant because the environment set her in a headspace where she knew she was supposed to eat. Most days I was taking her out to breakfast, going to work, coming home to check on her and grab a bite, then taking her out to dinner when I got home. It was an expensive way to live. And a monotonous way to live. Since she couldn't hold anything in memory for more than five minutes, she would forget the restaurants we just ate at and want to eat there again. Many times this ended up being Denny's, for which I was grateful, because they had a big menu with a lot of selections. Mom could eat eggs and toast for breakfast and dinner every day because she had no memory of it. I, however, could not, and would need to mix things up a bit. The chef at our local Denny's probably did not like seeing me walk in because I was trying to get creative with their dishes to make something vegetarian and interesting that I could eat. I tried to tip well though, so maybe it was okay? I have to say though, it was nice that my mom and I were recognized by name all that time.
Not that I didn't want to order banana caramel cream crunch pancakes with extra whipped cream every chance I got. But, alas, sugar. Loads of sugar...
Mmmmm... dessert for breakfast!
I don't eat breakfast very often now-a-days. So when I do, don't I deserve banana caramel cream crunch pancakes with extra whipped cream? Or at least a bowl of Apple Jacks?
Posted on Saturday, November 28th, 2020
Jenny has now 100% embraced her power over me, and she's getting better at manipulating me every day. She knows that all she has to do is meow and I'm going to do whatever she is wants. Give you a treat? Okay. Get your ball from under the couch? Okay. Rub your belly? Okay.
Here she is after she meowed at me to come fix her bed. The pad inside was flipped up and she wanted it put back down...
As I think I've mentioned, I don't trim my cats' claws. They don't really scratch anything up and are perfectly capable of maintaining their claws themselves...
Though every once in a while Jake really gets aggressive about it, and that makes me wonder if maybe I should face certain death by attempting to use clippers on them...
As the weather gets colder and colder I am more and more happy that I bought some warming pads to keep Jake and Jenny comfy. They sure do love them.
"You know, there are two of them, guys. You don't have to share."
"I SAID THAT YOU EACH HAVE ONE SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO SHARE!"
They've spent ten minutes waiting for the other one to move. Eventually the dinner alarm rang and they left at the same time.
I guess that the only thing cats love more than warmth is food.
Posted on Sunday, November 29th, 2020
The holiday season is officially upon us, but don't start celebrating just yet... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Friend! Oh wow. They made a film out of The Friend: Love is Not a Big Enough Word. I read this so many times when taking care of my mom that I practically have it memorized. I hope it's a good film. It looks like it could be...
It's difficult to see how a movie can compete with the power of the original article, but I'm keeping an open mind.
• Rook! My dad taught me how to play chess when I was fairly young. It wasn't really a game I was interested in, so I never played it much. In high school I'd play an occasional game for something to do, but I didn't really care enough to study so I was never terribly good. During my gap year I had a new found interest in the game and started playing via the internet. I got fairly good, read a few books on chess theory, and could hold my own by the time I started college. I haven't played a game since. It was for this reason I had decided to skip The Queen's Gambit when it debuted on Netflix. But the reviews were so stellar that I ended up watching it the following week...
It's a really good series. The acting is excellent and the way they communicate the strategy and energy of the game is terrific. But the best part is the production values. They are exceptional. They've recreated the 1960's right down to the last detail, and I ended up watching parts of it again last night just to look at the appliances, automobiles, dishware, music, clothing, and all the other things which made it such an experience to watch. If you've got a Netflix subscription and haven't seen it, I'd recommend giving it a look.
• Bai! If there's something which lessens the horror of having to vote for Joe Biden, it's that Ajit Pai is losing his job as FCC Chairman. He went out of his way to work against the best interest of the American people by trying to give corporations control of our privacy and our lives. He's a disgusting special-interest-sellout and a colossal asshole who should really be jailed for treason...
I guess now Pai will take a high-paying job with one of the many compies he sold us out to. Just wait for it. It's a revolving door that's as predictable as a sunrise. And until we get money the fuck out of our politics, this is how it's always going to be. Our government is for sale, and we're paying for the privilege of getting screwed by by the people we elect to serve us.
• FAKE! I know I post a lot of these "Deep Fakes" comparisons to special effects which cost magnitudes more money... but I just find it fascinating. This one is phenomenal. Such a huge improvement over what you see in the movie. It almost makes me wish that Disney would invest the money to redo Jeff Bridges face in Tron: Legacy. And Carrie Fischer and Peter Cushing's faces in Star Wars: Rogue One...
It's just so good.
• Better! It was the 10th anniversary of Joel Burns epic "It Gets Better" speech in October...
It seems like it was yesterday. But I go back to Bullet Sunday No. 202 from October 17th, 2010, and there it is. Boy time flies.
• Control? Unless you're buying into government propaganda, you already know how the U.S. pandemic response was a badly-botched job which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of people. But it's still surprising to see it laid out all in one place...
If you can watch it (on Hulu) without getting very, very angry, you're a better person than I am.
And that's Enough bullets for this week.
Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2020
Well that was an awful Monday.